Around 12 per cent of people have diseases and health problems that are directly caused by prescription drugs they are taking for a different condition.
The figure could be as high as 19 per cent if the people actually taking the drugs are to be believed, say researchers from Sweden's Sahlgrenska Academy.
The researchers, led by Katja Hakkarainen, made the discovery when they sent out questionnaires to 7,099 adults and matched their responses against 4,970 patient medical records.
Around 19 per cent surveyed reported having a new disease or health problem that they believed was caused by a prescription drug they were taking, but the researchers reduced this to 12 per cent when they inspected medical records.
However, one in five-or 20 per cent-of those questioned thought it would have been possible to have prevented the problem, either by taking a different dose or changing treatment. The medical records suggest that up to 40 per cent of the problems from prescription drugs could be prevented, or reversed, by doing so.
Nonetheless, drug-related morbidity-as the problem is known-is a big problem, and one that needs to be recognised and addressed by medicine, the researchers conclude.
(Source: University of Gothenburg)